Red Lab Overview
Members: Bastian, Giulia, Stael, Thue
Testing the selected organisms under Mars-like stress. We also try to acclimatize organisms specifically for space exploration.
The Red Lab is an ingenious mix of high-tech equipment and easy practical solutions. We utilise the Jens Martin Mars Chamber of the University of Copenhagen to test for the parameters of:
Low temperature extremes (approx. 193K)
High CO2 concentrations
To know exactly how this is achieved, see Experimental Concept.
Our collaboration with iGEM Leiden furthermore allows us to experiment with microgravity by virtue of their Random Positioning Machine.
Figure 1: The Jens Martin Mars Chamber at the Niels Bohr Institute used to test the behaviors of our bacteria under harsh conditions.
Data analysis takes place using the methods of haemocytometer and optical density readings. This allows for both exact counting of living organisms following the experiments, but also quantitative readings over a longer period of time to investigate subsequent growth patterns after exposure. That is to say, the long term effects after one-time exposure for varying durations.
Figure 2: (left) Optical microscope image of the Bacillus subtilis after subjection to low pressure and (right) the haemocytometer to visual counting the number of cells.
The Importance of Space Exploration
"The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever"
The words are of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, and they ring possibly even truer today than they did when he spoke them. Our project is ambitious and has the potential for far-reaching consequences in its ability to produce plastic, but our eyes are set on an even larger goal. Space exploration and more importantly colonization is an issue that we have tackled, and it's been the focus of our outreach campaign and our ethical considerations. We have formulated a vision and a list of arguments for human ambition in space as part of our Integrated Human Practices and defending them is also the responsibility of the Red Lab.
The Aspect of Sustainability
Sustainability is an important theme to have in mind when doing absolutely anything this day and age. The term changes identity somewhat when it comes to space however, because there we have even worse circumstances for recycling and being smart with our resources.
One must be capable of growing things in space, and one must be able to remove the tracks of that action. To that end, no less than biodegradable materials secreted from sporulating bacteria will do; so that very little mass can be brought out, cultured to become a lot of mars, and then degraded to become lactate (a possible fertilizer) - thus closing the "cradle to cradle"-loop. This is the innovative idea of which our project is based, and the Red Lab has taken on the task of mapping out its weaknesses and prepare a system for strengthening them - making it a viable solution.